27 January 2010 (ECOSY Newsletter)
This year has been tough for many people. The economic gloom has cast its shadow wide and left many hard-working people devastated. Unfortunately, as history has proven, it is during a recession that the politics of the far-right pick up.
It was during the great depression that Hitler rose to power – finding fault in ‘the other’, be that Jews, the disabled, gay people, Roma and Sinti people or political opponents. The dissatisfaction caused by rising unemployment and mutual distrust enabled him to enact anti-Jewish legislation, starting with marginalisation and ending in the murder of millions of European Jews.
In the UK this year the far-right gained their first European Parliamentary seats and in recent months the UK has borne witness to an increase in hate crime. Antisemitism is rising – Jews, regardless of their views on the Middle East, were the focus for attacks following the Israeli operation in Gaza. Islamophobia is on the rise too with incident figures shockingly high. The picture across Europe is just as bleak. And despite all this, the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day this year is ‘the Legacy of Hope’.
So how do we move from such a dark overview to the enduring brightness of hope?
Over the past ten years, over 7,000 UK students have visited Auschwitz and taken back to their schools their thoughts, feelings and lessons from their trip. Organisations like Save Darfur and the Aegis Trust continue to push harder for action in Sudan. In October, in London’s Trafalgar Square, thousands of people joined together to condemn homophobic hate crimes. Whilst in Haiti, people suffered, but the world came together to offer a helping hand. It is in these actions, efforts and campaigns that we give hope.
It is clear that if we hold our humanity dear and work together to express it, we can stem the tide of hatred and give hope that the future can be brighter than our past.
Wednesday 27 January marks Holocaust Memorial Day. I hope you will remember it and ensure the lessons for humanity are not forgotten.
Danny Stone is the Director of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism and the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.
Read the article as published here.